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The State appealed the dismissal of a charge against defendant Laura Akins for her failure to notify of a death pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-4301A. In November 2015, Kimberly Vezina’s body was found wrapped in a tarp and a shower curtain in Lake Coeur d’Alene. Law enforcement’s investigation revealed that Laura Akins was suspected of disposing the body after Vezina died of a drug overdose. The statute imposes a duty on persons who find or have custody of a body to promptly notify authorities. It also prescribes the punishment for failure to comply with that duty, including felony punishment for failing to notify with intent to prevent discovery of the manner of death. The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court’s review was whether defendant’s prosecution under this statute would violate her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court hold that it would, based on the unique set of facts of this case and affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss the charge. View "Idaho v. Akins" on Justia Law

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Shane Kraly was convicted by jury on various charges, including injury to a child. Kraly argued the jury verdict as to the injury to child charge was not supported by sufficient evidence to conclude that he assumed care or custody of the minor child, M.M. M.M. met Kraly on social media through a mutual friend. When they met in person, Kraly showed M.M. how to use methamphetamine. After review of the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction and remanded with instructions for the entry of a judgment of acquittal as to the injury to child charge. However, Kraly’s other convictions remain. On a day M.M. did not show up for school, the school called her father, and her father called M.M.’s juvenile probation officer. Using M.M.’s ankle monitor’s GPS coordinates, law enforcement tracked M.M. to the casino parking lot and discovered Kraly and M.M. sitting in his truck. Kraly was later arrested and charged with rape, injury to child, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. After trial, a jury found Kraly guilty on all counts. The pertinent part to “injury to child” was that the actor had to willfully cause a child to suffer, having the care or custody of any child. Under this standard Kraly argued he did not have “care or custody” of M.M. during the hours he spent with her and his conviction of injury to child had to be vacated. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed and reversed conviction as to that charge. The Supreme Court affirmed in all other respects. View "Idaho v. Kraly" on Justia Law

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Michael Johnson suffered injuries after he slipped and fell on a liquid while walking in the housewares department of a Wal-Mart store. Johnson knew neither the source of the substance, nor how long it had been on the floor. Additionally, none of Wal-Mart’s surveillance cameras captured the initial spill or Johnson’s fall. Johnson filed a complaint alleging Wal-Mart, which has issued an internal statement to its employees that spills are largely responsible for slip/trip/fall accidents in its stores, was negligent for failing to warn him of the potential for spills. Johnson claims that the store’s business practice of allowing patrons to carry liquids throughout the store should have put Wal-Mart on notice that spills were foreseeable anywhere. Wal-Mart filed a motion for summary judgment based on its lack of actual or constructive notice of the spill. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wal-Mart. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, finding the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for Wal-Mart since no evidence demonstrated a genuine issue of material fact regarding Wal-Mart’s liability for Johnson’s fall. View "Johnson v. Wal-Mart" on Justia Law

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Elfego Marquez illegally immigrated from Mexico to the United States. After entering the United States, Marquez went to southern California, where he purchased a social security card and used it to obtain employment washing dishes at a restaurant. After working in California for approximately seven months, Marquez moved to Emmett, Idaho and soon after began working at Pierce Painting. Marquez’s primary job at Pierce Painting was to prepare buildings to be painted. Pierce Painting knew Marquez was an undocumented immigrant and that his social security card was not legally issued to him. Not long after beginning at Pierce Painting, a supervisor received a notice of garnishment associated with the social security number used by Marquez. Evidently, the individual to whom the social security number had been legally issued had an outstanding child support delinquency. The supervisor instructed Marquez to obtain a different social security card. In 2010, Marquez was standing on two five gallon buckets stacked on top of each other to reach an area above a tall doorway when he fell onto a concrete floor fracturing his right wrist and injuring his right arm and shoulder. His right wrist was put into a cast and he eventually underwent multiple right shoulder surgeries. His doctor recommended permanent restrictions on overhead activities and that Marquez not return to his position at Pierce Painting. Marquez subsequently filed a workers’ compensation complaint. Pierce Painting through its surety, the State Insurance Fund (“SIF”), paid Marquez’s medical bills, total temporary disability benefits, and permanent partial impairment benefits. SIF did not pay Marquez’s permanent disability benefits, claiming that Marquez was not eligible for permanent disability due to his status as an undocumented immigrant. The Industrial Commission (the “Commission”) disagreed and ordered that Marquez was entitled to pursue a claim for permanent disability without reference to his status as an undocumented immigrant. Pierce Painting and SIF appealed the Commission's order. The Idaho Supreme Court found the Commission erred in finding Marquez could pursue a permanent disability claim without reference to his status as an undocumented immigrant. The governing statute stated: “A person, including a minor, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed . . .” shall constitute an employee who is entitled to coverage and benefits under the Act. "If the Idaho Legislature desired to create an absolute bar for permanent disability for those 'unlawfully employed' within the Act, it was free to do so when it amended the Act and removed the agricultural pursuits exemption in 1996 or thereafter. Moreover, if the Legislature wanted to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving a benefit under the workers’ compensation statutes, it could have created an express prohibition in that regard—just like it did regarding unemployment benefits." View "Marquez v. Pierce Painting" on Justia Law

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Anthony Robins, Jr. was convicted by jury for aiding and abetting two first-degree murders and an attempted first-degree murder. While incarcerated prior to trial, Robins’s cell was searched and handwritten notes he had prepared in anticipation of a meeting with counsel were seized and delivered to the prosecuting attorney. The district court granted Robins partial relief from a violation of his attorney-client privilege but placed the burden on him to object at trial if the State offered evidence or argument arising from the privileged materials. Robins argued the district court erred in fashioning this remedy, and the Idaho Supreme Court agreed. In light of the circumstances, the Supreme Court vacated his judgment of conviction and remanded the case with instructions to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the State can overcome the presumption of prejudice arising from its violation of Robins’s attorney-client privilege. If the State can overcome the presumption, the Court held a new trial had to be conducted from which the prosecutor's office had to be recused. View "Idaho v. Robins" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on whether the district court erred in its application of Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b). Juan Salinas was charged with attempted lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen after engaging in online conversations with a detective who posed as an adult. He discussed entering a sexual relationship with the fictitious adult and her minor daughter, and was arrested when he later drove to a hotel where he and the detective had agreed to meet. The State sought to admit evidence of similar conversations that Salinas had with others, as well as sexually-explicit pictures of a fifteen-year-old and four-year-old girl, not part of the State’s fictitious scenario. The district court admitted all the challenged evidence except the picture of the fifteen-year-old, which the court found was propensity evidence and prohibited under the Idaho Rules of Evidence. The district court found Salinas guilty of attempted lewd conduct after a bench trial. Salinas appealed his conviction, arguing the challenged evidence should have been excluded as inadmissible propensity evidence. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in admitting the challenged evidence and affirmed the judgment of conviction. View "Idaho v. Salinas" on Justia Law

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This case was the second appeal following a judicial foreclosure. Charles and Donna Nickerson initially appealed the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of PHH Mortgage and J.P. Mortgage Chase Bank in a judicial foreclosure proceeding involving the Nickersons’ approximately fifty acres of land in Clearwater County, Idaho (the “Property”). The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment grant in PHH Mortgage v. Nickerson, 374 P.3d 551 (2016) (“Nickerson I”). Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the district court issued an order lifting the stay on its prior judgment, as well as an order of sale and decree of foreclosure. The district court also denied the Nickersons’ post-appeal motions for sanctions, to quash execution and judgment, and to vacate or amend the order of sale and decree of foreclosure. The Nickersons then challenged several issues previously decided in Nickerson I as well as the district court’s decisions on motions and orders subsequent to that decision. The Supreme Court found that the "law of the case" doctrine prevented the Supreme Court from addressing issues that were raised or could have been raised in Nickerson I, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Nickersons' motion to quash execution and judgment, and the motion to reconsider. View "PHH Mortgage v. Nickerson" on Justia Law

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Appellant Jennifer Eastman sought a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to underinsured motorist insurance coverage (“UIM coverage”) under her auto insurance policy (the “Policy”) with Respondent Farmers Insurance Company (“Farmers”). Eastman was involved in a motor vehicle accident while traveling in a van operated by the Spokane Transit Authority (“STA”). Eastman sustained injuries as a result of the accident. Both the at-fault driver and STA held insurance policies. Eastman collected $50,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Additionally, Eastman collected $48,846 in UIM coverage from STA’s insurance policy. Eastman’s special damages from the accident exceeded the amount that she collected from the two insurance policies. Eastman thereafter filed a claim with her insurer, Farmers, in an attempt to collect her own UIM coverage under the Policy. Specifically, Eastman sought her UIM coverage limit ($500,000) minus the $98,846 that she had already collected from the other insurance policies. Farmers denied Eastman’s claim based on an exclusion within the Policy which eliminated UIM coverage in situations where the insured was riding in another vehicle that had UIM coverage. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Farmers, ruling that an exclusion contained in the Policy precluded UIM coverage for Eastman’s injuries. Finding that the clause in Eastman's policy violated Idaho's public policy, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded this case with direction to invalidate the insurance exclusion at issue here. View "Eastman v. Farmers Insurance" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved an Idaho district court’s denial of a jury trial under Rule 39(b) of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure and the decision to pierce the corporate veil. The dispute stemmed from a transaction between Kym Nelson, who acted on behalf of KDN Management Inc., (“KDN”), and WinCo, Foods, LLC (“WinCo”), for concrete floor work that KDN performed in several WinCo stores. The district court found that KDN had overcharged WinCo for the work, and awarded WinCo $2,929,383.31 in damages, including attorney fees. The district court also held Nelson and two entities associated with her, SealSource International, LLC, and KD3 Flooring LLC, jointly and severally liable for WinCo’s damages. Nelson, SealSource and KD3 argued on appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court that the trial court erred in concluding: (1) Nelson was personally liable for damages relating to this dispute; and (2) that KDN, SealSource and KD3 were alter egos of one another. Nelson and the corporate co-defendants also argued the district court abused its discretion by denying their motion for a jury trial under Rule of Civil Procedure 39(b). Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and award of attorney fees to WinCo. View "KDN Management, Inc. v. WinCo" on Justia Law

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Victoria H. Smith was nearly 100 years old when she died on September 11, 2013. During her life she married Vernon K. Smith Sr., a lawyer who died of a heart attack in 1966. The couple had three children: Joseph H. Smith, Vernon K. Smith Jr., and Victoria A. (Smith) Converse. This case centered on Victoria’s estate: the magistrate court ruled that Victoria died intestate after finding that her will was a product of the undue influence of her son, Appellant Vernon Smith Jr. Vernon appealed that ruling, as well as an earlier partial summary judgment ruling that invalidated a series of transactions that transferred all of Victoria’s assets to a limited liability company that Vernon owned and a corresponding judgment entered pursuant to Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 70(b). After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error in the magistrate court’s judgment and affirmed. View "Smith v. Smith" on Justia Law